Life is interesting, isn't it? I mean, so many times what we plan for, what we imagine, what we dream of, what we believe we can count on... it never happens. Maybe fairy tales ruin us. Maybe expectations of others leave us no choice but to fall short. Maybe we make our own choices, and after so many choices, we look ourselves in the mirror and wonder how in the world we arrived here. What went wrong? The retrospection is dangerous, and quite useless. As is the guilt, the shame, the anger we turn inward.
When I was a teenager, barely sixteen, I moved out of my home. That was, at the time, the healthiest choice I could have made for myself. By eighteen, my stellar grades hardly meant a thing, because I was pregnant. I was pregnant and alone. I remember one night I slept with my Bible, I was so afraid. Boys don't make very good men, and it was only a short matter of time before I found myself with a beautiful baby girl, a heap of pain from infidelity, and single.
Every woman, at some point, should experience what it is like to walk in the front door after the end of a long day, with no one but herself to keep her company. It is both empowering and humbling at the same time.
Along comes this perfect stranger. He spent a summer making friends with Brooklyn before he ever even spoke to me. I think he knew the way to my heart was through my Brooklyn. It was absolute perfection, well, until one night he grabbed me by the ponytail and the arm, pulled me out of my car and through me down in the middle of the street. Apparently I didn't get to leave, if he didn't want me to. I remember standing up, adrenaline coursing through my veins, looking down at my hands at the gravel that had imprinted in my skin. I had to tell myself that this was really happening. The man I was hoping to spend the rest of my life with, the man I trusted to love my little girl, the man that I loved completely, was an abuser.
I encourage you, before you make assumptions, to learn about the nature of abusers and the women who find themselves with them. On average, a woman in an abusive relationship attempts to leave her abuser seven times before she gets out for good. I lived it, for nearly five years. I must have tried to leave dozens of times, only to find myself right back in his grip. I took a class on domestic violence. I read every book I could find on the matter. I had an amazing support system of women who were willing to do anything to get me away from him. I can't tell you why it took me so long to leave.
So, I found myself single, now with another baby girl, and a daughter in love with a man that went about destroying her mother. As he had women before me, and I am so blessed to call a few of them friends. I have definitely had a few lingering looks in the mirror, wondering how in the world I arrived here.
Dare I say, this is the best time of my life. I have been on my own for quite some time now, and I love being a single mother. It is so hard, don't get me wrong. But I am so much happier than I ever could have imagined. I love waking up to my girls. I love tucking them in and saying prayers at bedtime. I love that they get to see me strong, independent, and growing more lovely with each passing day. They get to witness an amazing transformation in their mother... a mom who loves and respects herself. I can't help but believe, that some of it will be imparted on them. I have yet to meet a man good enough for them... good enough to model what a man should be, and how a man should love a woman.
I have been praying for my husband since I was five years old. I remember my very specific prayers, as a child, for a good man, for a husband who is a great dad. I also prayed that I would only be married once. I know to have two children, with two different guys, doesn't really fit in any box society is comfortable with. But I smile every time it comes up. Because I know, God heard the prayers of my five-year-old heart. And that is precisely why I have been engaged twice, but never married.
I have no real interest in dating. Although, I can't wait to hold hands. I can't wait to admire his laugh, his messy hair, the way he sings in the car. I can't wait to hug him so I can try to memorize the way he smells, the way my cheek rests on his chest... "In time, my daughter."
Statistically, I should never be where I am right now. Statistically, I should be neck deep in a horribly abusive relationship, raising two daughters that would no doubt follow in my footsteps. And in all actuality, statistically, I should be dead. I belong to God. He saved me. He saves me over and over, there are no limitations to His Mercy, Grace, Forgiveness, and Love. I get to experience a freedom, that one can only truly appreciate after living in years of bondage and brokenness, and abuse. Sweet sweet freedom.
I am as free as a bird.